The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

World of Warcraft: Clearing Blackrock Depths and an Incursion into the Molten Core

“I’m glad it’s finally hot enough to complain about how hot it is.” —Unknown

On the hottest weekend of the year about a month ago, I had the idea of going into Blackrock Depths to see what soloing a dungeon would be like in World of Warcraft. During the time I spent on my friend’s private server, we’d only ever done one dungeon together with everyone on the server as a consequence of our schedules; when final exams rolled around, I typically became unavailable to party up with my friends, and by the time summer arrived, it was tricky to coordinate a group event, what with everyone travelling and otherwise capitalising on the beautiful weather that accompanies summertime. By the time term started again, my friend ended up deciding to get everyone together for a dungeon in the Eastern Plaguelands’ Stratholme, where we smashed our way through for fun. This was an experience to remember, although I don’t have any screenshots of our run through Stratholme. Subsequently, most of my time in World of Warcraft was with my rogue friend, although grouping together for epic dungeon runs no longer happened. Since starting my own server, I’ve been able to now venture into places that I’d never explored previously. After refamiliarising myself with the mage I’ve built, I decided to attempt several of World of Warcraft‘s most quintessential dungeons on my own, and Blackrock Depths was high on my list of places to explore. Located at the heart of the Burning Steppes and Searing Gorge, it is an intimidating underground realm ruled by the Dark Iron dwarves that is one of then largest dungeons of World of Warcraft. A party of five is estimated to take anywhere from four to six hours to complete the entire dungeon on account of how many nooks and crannies there are, and in classic World of Warcraft, this was the dungeon to hit: it was a veritable experience that defined what the endgame of an RPG should be. As expansions came out for World of Warcraft, players would eventually become powerful enough to solo Blackrock Depths on their own without trouble, although serious players would find it to be inefficient to farm gear from here at higher levels.

It was on an August Sunday afternoon that I decided to enter Blackrock Depths for myself, just to see what it the solo dungeon experience was about. After arriving at Blackrock Mountain and travelling down a secret set of stairs into a subterranean mine below, I crossed into the dungeon instance. The dungeon is massive, and although I had no trouble decimating everything that moved, the fact was the area was labyrinthine, making it very easy to get lost. I eventually would push on away from the starting area into the Dark Iron dwarves’ city, slaughtering my way through the dungeon. There are a few doors that must be opened to allow for progression, and tracking down the necessary keys and puzzles was also a bit of a time-consuming endeavour. About two hours after I started, I reached the end of the dungeon and destroyed the dungeon’s final boss, Emperor Dagran Thaurissan. Even though I had been powerful enough to trivially mop the floor with the dungeon’s mobs, the sheer size of the place made it a lengthy process to go through. I subsequently stopped for coffee, and then proceeded to complete the attunement quest for the Molten Core. The Molten Core raid proved to be of a level that I was simply unequipped to deal with: even standard mobs had more than a hundred thousand points of health (and I can only hit for about ten thousand points of damage with my most powerful direct-damage spells), and the bosses themselves were ludicrously powerful, making each fight an arduous process. As the evening set in, and I grew exhausted from the raid, I ended up reaching Ragnaros’ chamber, but realised that there were a few things I still needed to do before it was possible to summon him. The combination of 28°C temperatures and six hours of almost-nonstop World of Warcraft (it was punctuated with periodic breaks) rendered me quite exhausted, and I decided to call it a night. Having now gone through Blackrock Depths and reached the Molten Core, I feel that I’ve gotten a good measure of why raiding can take groups entire afternoons and evenings to complete.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’d passed over Blackrock Mountain numerous times: the flight path between Stormwind and Ironforge travels over both the Blasted Lands and Searing Gorge, two volcanic regions dominated by lava and smoke. At level thirty, I had no chance of safely exploring these areas, which have a minimum requirement of level forty. It thus felt a little intimidating to visit these regions for myself, despite knowing that I had been more than geared for this journey.

  • Just for the purpose of running Blackrock Depths, I equipped myself with the Tempest Regalia, a tier-six raid set that would’ve stood as one of the best mage sets available in Burning Crusade. By the time of Wrath of the Lich King, higher-tier sets supersede the Tempest Regalia, although its appearance remains quite compelling, and I’m rather fond of the headpiece that it comes with: close inspection of this will find that a magical discharge rises between the prongs, forming a sort of Jacob’s Ladder.

  • I started Blackrock Depths with my fire spells, but realised that most of the enemies down here had enough fire resistance to slow down the pace that I could move through the dungeon. I subsequently switched back over to the frost spells I had on hand, using a combination of Frostbolt and Ice Lance to blast enemies. While the most mundane of a mage’s arsenal, frost spells are great for slowing foes down, and I’m especially fond of Ice Lance, as it allows me to cast while moving.

  • Blizzard is perhaps the most powerful spell I have in my repertoire for dealing consistently high amounts of AoE damage: anything caught in the impacted area quickly falls, and it was against the inhabitants of Blackrock Depths that I was able to appreciate how powerful Blizzard really is. Entire groups of enemies would be felled in a matter of seconds, and I found myself moving much more swiftly through the area; the tunnels were quite tricky to navigate, so even though enemies were dealt with more quickly, there was still the matter of finding my way around.

  • The downside about Blizzard is that, compared to the other spells available, it is much more mana intensive. Fortunately, with a high spirit value, mana regenerates relatively quickly for me, and as long as I’m not casting Blizzard faster than my mana can be restored, I will always have access to my spells for damage-dealing. In the worst case, I do have a wand equipped, which allows me to continue being effective in the (unlikely) event that my mana is completely depleted and I have no regenerative potions on hand.

  • Blizzard must have altered the properties of the Water Elemental: when I played through World of Warcraft‘s Starter Edition, my Water Elemental stuck around until I dismissed it. Here in Wrath of the Lich King, however, Water Elementals will only be active for a minute, during which they can act as a source of extra damage and can draw attention off oneself briefly. In the Blackrock Depths, I found that two to three spells were oftentimes more than enough to handle whatever I had been facing.

  • On an ordinary run, players would come here with a group of five: two damage-dealers, two tanks and one healer. The tanks typically will draw focus onto themselves and absorb damage while damage-dealers focus on handling the enemies. Healers will then keep the tanks topped off, occasionally replenishing the damage-dealer’s mana or otherwise resurrecting anyone who sustained too much damage. Here, I will remark that one of my decisions to spin up my own server was that, during my time in the Starter Edition, I used the dungeon finder to do a dungeon that was supposed to help me get a rare quest item.

  • However, for one reason or another, I got kicked from the group shortly after joining for no reason. It became clear that power-tripping is still very much a thing, and much as how some people would kick others from their party in The Division for having too low a gear score. Arbitrary kicks absolutely degrade the experience, and to the party leader of that day, if they are reading this, they ought to know that they did contribute to me spinning up my own server, so that I could explore in peace without individuals like that mucking things up. After reaching a tomb, I interacted with several ghosts that would turn hostile. Again, I imagine they would’ve put up an impressive fight for level-appropriate characters, but I ended up mopping them.

  • Pushing through into the final areas of the dungeon, I reach the Lyceum, which is a vast hallway with stone pillars resembling that of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dwarrowdelf. Since I’ve not played Lord of The Rings: Online, this is probably the closest I’ll get to seeing the vast stone halls that the Fellowship passed through on their way to the other side of the Misty Mountains. The way on is blocked by a doorway that must be opened by lighting two torches, and the entire time, I was wondering if I would run into the equivalent of a Balrog while here.

  • In an ironic twist, the temperatures today are supposed to be just as hot as they were when I ran Blackrock Depths. However, the morning is still quite cool, and the hot weather isn’t to last; as we enter the long weekend, the forecast calls for cool, rainy weather that won’t be quite conducive for spending time outdoors. Instead, it might be time to curl up with a good book, Survivorman‘s Director’s Commentary and a cup of Okanagan Lavender tea with honey, which has been my go-to drink for cooler days.

  • Because it had been such a hot day when I chose to take on Blackrock Depths, the heat of the underground and its volcanic fires felt even more visceral: squaring off against Magmus here really felt like fighting the Balrog Durin’s Bane, although with the power difference between myself and Magmus, I swiftly defeated him and pushed forwards into the last sections of Blackrock Depths. Durin’s Bane, on the other hand, is on a completely different power level: it took Gandalf fighting it at full power to bring it down, and even then, Gandalf himself died in the process.

  • Two dwarves act as the final boss of Blackrock Depths: I’ve read that if I spare the princess, it will be possible to unlock a quest, but since I was new to Blackrock Depths, I instead ended up melting both bosses. For level-appropriate players, the gear dropped in Blackrock Depths will be of a decent quality; a handful of items will be usable, and otherwise, can still net one a decent amount of coin once sold. For me, however, I have access to the game’s items through GM commands and so, the looting aspects of World of Warcraft really becomes secondary to exploration.

  • Having said this, I do get the full experience in something like The Division, so for World of Warcraft, I am completely content to simply venture into the different places of Azeroth. Altogether, it took me about two hours to clear Blackrock Depths on my own, including exploration and backtracking time. With this dungeon in the books, I had one remaining objective: entering Blackrock Depths, I accepted a quest to attune myself for the Molten Core raid, and so after completing it, I became curious to see what the Molten Core was like.

  • Back in Wrath of the Lich King and earlier, the Molten Core required that one be a part of a party to even enter – the raid required five parties’ worth of players to be viable, as even the standard enemies were ludicrously powerful. When I tried entering the Molten Core, an error message popped up, and I ended up changing some server configurations so I could get in. It soon became clear as to why solo players were barred from entering.

  • When I targeted the nearest enemy, I was surprised to learn they had the same amount of health as the bosses I faced earlier: the standard Molten Giants had a hundred and twenty thousand points of health, while the Firelords were rocking about ninety thousand health. What’s more, they dealt enough damage to take me down to half health within the space of seconds. The raid had clearly been designed for 25-player groups, whose members had clearly assigned roles to pull and engage the enemies one at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed.

  • As such, given the vast disparity in health and damage, it became apparent to me that soloing Molten Core as it was in Wrath of the Lich King, without a considerable boost to my survivability and damage model, was simply not viable. Further to this, because I’d not completed a long and complex quest chain to allow for Ragnaros to be summoned, I wasn’t quite ready to experience the raid as it was meant to be played.

  • However, I still wanted to try my hand to see how effective I was against some of the weaker bosses in the raid. To even things out I little, I enabled some of my GM powers to mimic being in group, but even then, each fight was an incredibly long experience as I unloaded onto the bosses with everything I had: while I am capable of dealing a decent amount of damage, and the bosses themselves fortunately do not have any healers, their vast health pool and resistances still made each fight a lengthy one.

  • In anything past Cataclysm, the increased level cap and attendant power scaling means that players are able to trivially solo Molten Core. In addition, bosses in later expansions appear to have been scaled down for solo players: for instance, Ragnaros had north of a million health in World of Warcraft, but only possesses around three hundred thousand health if soloed in a newer expansion: later dungeons do appear to scale enemy strength to match the number of players in a party.

  • Soloing in any given game offers a different set of challenges: being flanked and surrounded is probably the trickiest thing to deal with. In a party, multiple players have the advantage of covering different areas, and games typically compensate by sending in more enemies or tougher enemies. Having soloed more or less the whole of The Division and The Division 2, I’ve found that there is an incredible journey to be had in playing that game solo – it really accentuates the impact a single agent and their skills can have in The Division.

  • By the time I decided to call it quits, it had been some six hours since I started. Fortunately, since this was my server, I did take breaks in between to stop for afternoon tea and dinner, as well as stepping outside to water the flowers. Even with quarter-hour breaks spaced in between hour-long sessions, however, it was still quite exhausting, and I looked forwards to getting some proper rest. In retrospect, the Molten Core and Blackrock Depths was remarkably entertaining. Since I’m currently working on the Hornet manhunt in The Division 2, I hope to try and wrap that up before the season ends, and then I’ll return to World of Warcraft.

Having finished one of the more iconic World of Warcraft experiences, I found it to be quite thrilling even though it had been only me soloing the content: because the Blackrock Depths had been the endgame content for the classic World of Warcraft, the maps and enemies were well-designed, clearly intended to provide players with a proper challenge once they’d hit level sixty. Even though World of Warcraft is nearly sixteen years old, the quality of Blackrock Depths remains evident, and I certainly had fun exploring what would’ve been the most advanced and sophisticated dungeon of World of Warcraft as it had appeared to players back then. With Blackrock Depths in the books, I’ve found that for five-man dungeons, my mage should be adequately equipped to handle almost everything in World of Warcraft without too much difficulty, although with the mechanics in Wrath of the Lich King, it appears that soloing 25-man raids is not going to be a particularly easy task in the absence of my GM powers. As such, I imagine that with my mage, I should be reasonably well-prepared to continue exploring Outland and Northrend, which were areas that, owing to time constraints back in the day, I never fully explored. With these constraints absent, there still remains quite a bit to do in World of Warcraft, and I think that after I visit some of Azeroth’s more picturesque places, it’ll be time to cover Outland.

One response to “World of Warcraft: Clearing Blackrock Depths and an Incursion into the Molten Core

  1. Liternas September 5, 2020 at 02:25

    I joined a new guild, it’s called the Raidline, so here these bosses are just zerking and also boosting other players.


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